Phishing Scams: How to Spot and Protect Your BusinessVanessa Venugopal
Cyber threats, like phishing scams, are not new. It has been around for years, and attackers continue to utilize it as people easily fall for it.
Phishing attacks are one of the most common attacks on businesses. In 2018, 76% of businesses reported that they were victims of a phishing attack.
Attacks like these are common because most businesses or individuals don’t take the time to educate and protect themselves from such threats. They often click on emails, pop-ups, and provide their information without looking for the signs or having an idea about phishing attacks.
In this article, we will be sharing with you all you need to know about phishing and how you can protect your business and data.
WHAT IS PHISHING?
Phishing is a type of online threat or scam where criminals will send an email that looks like it came from a legitimate company. The email contains a link that will lead you to a website where you can fill your information.
But the website is a fake one, where hackers steal information provided by the victim.
That’s why the word phishing is used, as it came from a spin of the word fishing. The criminals lure their victims with a fake website and waiting for someone to “bite” on the trap. Often these websites will store the information you provided, and they will use it to either steal money or manipulate your account/s.
TYPES OF PHISHING
Deceptive phishing is the most common form of phishing known. This attack often attempts to replicate a legitimate company. They send emails similar to the company to victims. This email contains a link that will lead to a site requesting the victim to log in to change their credentials.
Often some people who don’t know how a phishing email looks like falls for this. There are common mistakes you can spot if an email is a scam or not.
This type of attack uses Voice over IP (VoIP). The server of VoIP can appear differently. Even the caller ID can be changed for the phishing attack to be successful. An example of this attack may appear that someone from the company is calling or that a bank or the IRS (outside entity) is trying to call.
This strategy could affect or target vulnerable people.
For clone phishing, it utilizes the legitimate message the victim has already received. The criminal creates a version of this message and injects malicious content into it. A replica is hence created and sent to the victim.
This type of phishing uses fraudulent websites and emails to attack or get their next victim. They send emails that look like it originates from an official domain. Or, they create a fake website that replicates the original website.
Fake Wi-Fi Connection
Unlike other forms of phishing scams, this one uses a Wi-Fi connection. It’s also known as ‘Evil Twin.’ The attacker pretends to create a fake Wi-Fi connection that looks legitimate. When someone connects to it, it can gather personal or corporate information, without them knowing about it.
Sometimes it’s also called the Starbucks scam because this often occurs or starts on a coffee shop.
Smishing is another form of a phishing attack but utilizes an SMS/ text/ instant communication method. Criminals send messages to anyone, and they look like it comes from a legitimate sender. It appears as a coupon or a prize.
In Spear phishing, the attacker targets a specific organization or group of people. Unlike in other forms of phishing that emails are sent to thousands of people, spear phishing focuses on a small group.
Emails are personalized or tailored to the victim. The subject line of the email should catch the victim’s interest for them to open the message and click on the link.
It’s like phishing but, the target of attackers are the big guys like a CEO. The attacker will gather all data and study the target person well before deploying their attack. When a person on position gets to become a victim, it’s a big concern as they hold a lot of vital information about the company.
There are other forms of phishing scams, but these are the most common attacks. However, all of these attacks have similarities that you can use to spot a scam.
HOW TO SPOT A PHISHING SCAM?
Here are some ways you can detect if an email or website is legitimate, safe, or a scam.
Email Sent Using a Public Domain
Most companies use their own email domain like @goggle.com or @softvire.co.nz. They never use a public domain like @gmail.com or @notice-access-234.
If you have noticed this, know that it’s a scam.
Remember to always check for the sender’s name, email address, or search the company’s name on the search engine.
Poorly Written Emails
Most phishing scams are poorly written, as it is often created by attackers who are not good in writing, came from a non-English speaking place, or from a background with limited access to learn the language.
As you can see, attackers don’t focus on correcting the spelling or grammar of their emails. That’s why errors in spelling and grammar are common. They sometimes use a translator. That’s why some parts of the email don’t make sense.
However, not all grammatical errors or misspelled words necessarily mean that it’s a scam. You have to see the context of the error before assuming that an email is from an attacker.
Suspicious Link or Attachment
A phishing email won’t be complete without a link or attachment containing the malware.
Some email constructed may have an email domain that looks legitimate, and the content is well spelled with no grammar errors. This strategy might convince you that the email is not a scam and you might click on the link or download the attached file.
But before you do so, you also have to check the link. You can move the cursor near the button that directs you to the site to see if the link matches the sender. You’ll see the link on the lower-left corner of your screen.
Meanwhile, for mobile devices, click long press to see the link on a pop-up.
Message Conveys a Matter of Urgency
Most scams or phishing emails create a sense of emergency. It tries to make the receiver to act now, or something else will happen.
Scammers use this technique because most people respond quickly when they receive an urgent email. If they don’t use this technique, people will procrastinate or take their time before dealing with the email. When people look at their email for the second time with fresh eyes, they could notice that it’s a scam.
That’s why urgent emails are mostly a scam unless confirmed that it’s from someone you know.
Asks for Personal Information
Often attackers request for personal information like credit card account or login credentials that legitimate companies or businesses won’t ask through email.
If you have doubts about the email sent to you, you can contact them by using another means of communication.
Since attackers use the names of legitimate companies, they also get their logos to make them seem more real. They often copy and paste the logo, which makes it appear fuzzier/ pixelated. Or, they make it tiny to avoid this issue.
HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF AND YOUR BUSINESS FROM ATTACKS
There are various ways attackers can deploy their attacks. But, there are also ways you can prevent this from happening.
Always Stay Informed
Getting the latest updates or news about phishing scams is also part of protecting yourself. If you know about them, you are less likely to fall prey to them. Knowing anything about attacks will lower your risk of being snared.
Install an Effective Antivirus Software
Installing software like Bitdefender NZ, Kaspersky, and AVG can help protect your device from downloading or installing malware into your computer. It will scan all the incoming files or files saved on your devices and detect malicious content.
Antivirus or anti-malware software will block attacks or malware from deploying its action.
Avoid Clicking on Pop-ups
Phishing attacks can also occur through pop-ups on websites. They masquerade themselves as a legitimate part of a website. But you can avoid this by blocking pop-ups. If you don’t have a tool to block pop-ups, don’t click on it or the cancel button. Instead, click the “X” button.
Never Share Personal Information
It’s a general rule to never share any personal information online. But if you think that you have received an email from a legitimate source, and it seems like you need to provide your information, make sure to do the following first.
- Visit the main website of the said company.
- Call or contact them (never click on the link or reply to the email sent to you).
- Check the email address of the website.
- Make sure that the website starts with an HTTPS and has a lock symbol.
Firewalls are the best protection you use to buffer or protect your computer from intruders. It will protect your data and device from every incoming and outgoing activity. No spy or attackers will be able to monitor anything you do.
You should install a desktop and network firewall for strengthened and enhanced protection. It gives the best protection from hackers.
Here are samples of firewalls:
Check Your Accounts Regularly
Going through your accounts regularly will give you an overview of any suspicious activity happening on your accounts. Even though you don’t use it that often, regular check-ups are required. Also, you need to change passwords regularly too.
Think Before You Click
If you want to avoid falling prey to these attacks, always think before you click on any link. It’s fine to click on links on a safe, secure, and trusted website. However, when receiving an email, always doubt the content. Never click on a link provided and always check on the website first.
Verify the Website’s Security
Before providing details online, make sure that the website is secure. You can ensure the safety of the website by checking on its security certificate, and the site’s URL must begin with HTTPS and a lock icon on the address bar.
Train Your Employees
If you want to protect your whole business, informing and training your employees to spot or recognize a phishing website or email can be a big help.
Add Another Layer of Protection
Using two-factor authentication is the best way to protect your accounts from phishing scams. It adds a layer of protection after you try to log in. The second layer of protection would ask a question, a code, or facial recognition.
Secure Your Data with Cloud-Based Storage
You can also secure your data and systems even further by getting reliable and robust cloud-based storage. In the case of dreaded ransomware attacks that can come from seemingly simple phishing emails, your website can recover right away. You can be up and running in no time without having to pay the ransom because your system and data can be restored at the most recent save point. These cloud-based solutions are even more crucial now more than ever, to fully secure your business in a time when ransomware attacks are most rampant.
Educating yourself and your employees about cybersecurity and threats can bring your business a long way. It can protect all your data and devices. Furthermore, utilizing protective software and being informed on how to spot scams are vital.
If you are looking for the best and affordable protective software for your devices, personal use, or business, Softvire has everything you need. Visit our website and enjoy the great discounts we offer.